Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis, Dirisu Yakubu and Solomon Odeniyi
The All Progressives Congress has faulted opposition parties for faulting the Independent National Electoral Commission’s claim that the 2023 general elections BVAS deployment recorded 98 per cent success.
A bimodal voter accreditation system is an electronic device designed to read permanent voter cards and authenticate voters …
Commenting on the opposition parties’ stand, the APC noted that the INEC Chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu, deserved some commendations for overseeing a peaceful electoral process.
The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, had said the contrasting views about the results of the elections were a fair reflection of a complex multi-party democracy.
He also said according to the commission’s record, the polls produced the most diverse outcomes since the return to democracy in 1999.
Speaking at a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja on Tuesday, Yakubu noted that the outcome of the elections showed that a party’s dominance of the nation’s politics was likely over.
He stated, “The first set of elections, the Presidential and National Assembly were held as planned for the first time in the last four general elections conducted in the country. Accreditation of voters using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System has generally been scored very high by voters. Our records show that the success rate for BVAS accreditation stands at 98 per cent compared to the Smart Card Reader’s 29.2 per cent during the 2019 general elections.”
Yakubu admitted there were some challenges in the elections, saying the commission was looking into the evidence of infractions as well as the activities of all actors involved in the elections.
The INEC chairman said, “Still, we must acknowledge that there were also some challenges, which were structural, infrastructural, and human. Indeed, it is in furtherance of our determination to address the challenges as we prepare for future elections that the Commission is commencing its post-election review engagements today.
“We are presently looking at all the evidence of infractions during the election, including the prosecution of offenders. We are looking at the activities of all actors involved in the election, including some of our high-ranking officials. I can confirm that the Nigeria Police concluded its investigation of the conduct of our Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa State and submitted the case file to us. Appropriate action will be taken in a matter of days and Nigerians will be fully informed.”
Yakubu also disclosed that a total of 215 case files of election offenders had been received from the police.
He stated that the commission was also working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission to prosecute cases relating to vote buying.
Stating that the 2023 elections were well prepared for, Yakubu said the attack on its facilities and security challenges bedevilling the country could not stop the election from being held.
Yakubu said, “I can also confirm that we have received 215 case files from the Nigeria Police following their arrest and the conclusion of an investigation into electoral offences arising from the 2023 General Election. We are working with the Nigerian Bar Association to prosecute the alleged offenders.
“Already, the NBA has submitted a list of 427 lawyers across the country who have volunteered to render pro bono services to the Commission. They are not charging legal fees but by mutual agreement, the Commission will provide a token amount to cover filing fees/expenses.
“Similarly, we are working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission on the prosecution of cases relating to vote buying and associated violations. “
He said the scathing criticisms by observers, candidates, and political parties among others were expected, adding that the commission had turned a deaf ear to them as the several issues around the election were “sub-judice”.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party chided the INEC boss over his claims that the polls reflected Nigeria’s multi-party democracy model.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Ibrahim Abdullahi, described Yakubu’s claim as “Lies from the pit of hell.”
According to him, “Local and international observers condemned the charade they called the election as the worst malfeasance in Nigeria’s electoral history. We as a party, have also proven this at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.”
Speaking in the same tone, the media aide to the PDP presidential candidate in the 2023 election, Mr Paul Ibe, labelled INEC’s statement as a product of “criminal ingenuity.”
He said, “For him to make those claims, that is criminal ingenuity. Nigerians are not interested in what BVAS did with accreditation. They lined up to vote so that their votes would count. That did not happen.
“Presidential and National Assembly elections were held simultaneously but while the commission had no trouble transmitting the National Assembly election results, they could not do that of the Presidential election. Isn’t that a cause for worry?
“The INEC chairman should know that Nigerians cannot be fooled easily. He should tell us why the transmission of results which is the biggest takeaway from the 2022 Electoral Act, fell short of expectations, despite the billions of naira spent on conducting the elections.
“He should tell the tribunal while it became impossible for his leadership to transmit the presidential result into the INEC viewing portal as had been successfully done in off-season governorship elections in some states. Equally very important is the need for him to tell Nigerians that before the election, he consistently assured the world that the result of the entire exercise would be transmitted in real-time to the INEC viewing portal.”
But defending the electoral commission, the Director of Publicity for the APC, Bala Ibrahim, insisted that the INEC should not be vilified, noting that it deserved kudos for conducting a largely peaceful election.
Ibrahim argued that the permutation that the election may be marred by violence was proved wrong as the exercise did not degenerate into violence.